Posts Tagged health

Laughter – The Shiny Side Up – Rev. Susan Sparks

Hi Y’all, welcome to the Shiny Side Up! A journal of infectious inspiration that will lift you up, make you smile and leave you stronger!

Recently, the Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to two immunotherapy researchers for their work on unleashing the body’s immune system to attack cancer.

As a breast cancer survivor, I say “Amen!” Thanks to advances like this, including innovative treatments, and early detection, I am a twelve-year survivor.

Well . . . innovative treatments, early detection, and, of course, laughter.

Laughter?

Yes. As a comedian, minister and cancer survivor, I believe that laughter is one of the most powerful tools we have for physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. And in this month of Breast Cancer Awareness, it is something we should celebrate.

There is overwhelming scientific evidence supporting the health benefits of humor. For example, we know that the extra intake of air from laughing can lower our blood pressure, boost the immune system, enhance heart and lung function and increase endorphins. It can even bump up our calorie burn. In fact, laughing for fifteen minutes can burn 80 calories. That’s enough to justify a Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup!

Humor is now being used in hospitals and treatment centers as a healing tool for cancer, Alzheimer’s, autism, and mental health issues. The Big Apple Clown Care Unit, for example, sponsors programs across the country in which clowns help children cope with the intimidating atmosphere of a hospital.

Another program, Standup for Mental Health, uses stand-up comedy training to reduce the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness. As its founder, David Granirer, explains, “The idea is that laughing at our setbacks raises us above them. It makes people go from despair to hope, and hope is crucial to anyone struggling with adversity.”

Humor and laughter can also bring psychological healing. During my cancer struggle, I realized I had three choices: be mad, be sad, or laugh. I soon learned that the most powerful approach was to laugh. One day, a new patient walked into the radiation center with a T-shirt that read: “Yes, they are fake; my old ones tried to kill me.” The entire waiting room burst out laughing, and that moment of laughter reminded us that cancer was not who we were; it was only something we were experiencing.

Laughter changes our perspective and invites us to see things in a fresh new way. The ability to step back and laugh at ourselves also reminds us that we are only human and that we should be more forgiving of ourselves.

It’s like the serenity prayer teaches: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Of course, I like the senility prayer better: “God, grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones that I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.” Either way, laughter helps us see ourselves in a more forgiving light.

Spiritual healing may be where laughter is most powerful. As Proverbs teaches us, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones…”

The Hebrew word “ruach” means both “spirit” and “air.” Therefore, it can be said that when we laugh, we are inhaling and exhaling the spirit. Or, as author Anne Lamott describes it, “Laughter is carbonated holiness.”

And why not? God has a sense of humor. Consider 1 Samuel 5:9 where God strikes the entire male population of Philistines with hemorrhoids (harsh, but funny), or the fact that we are made in the image of the divine. Humans laugh and feel joy, so a part of the divine must also laugh.

The willingness to laugh with God also allows us to express anger with God. Sometimes we blame or get mad at God for what we are going through. But in order to work through that anger, we have to share it. In order to be healed, we must bring God all our pieces: anger, sadness, fear, and laughter. It’s all holy.

So, here’s to the immunotherapy researchers; to the doctors, nurses, and technicians and to everyone whose life is dedicated to caring for and healing us. God bless them. And most of all, God bless the gift of laughter—the one thing that may save us all.

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Fifty-Two Keys for Living, Loving and Working

 

Reduce stress

Stress is a robber of health, vitality, and mental agility. It steals our imagination and our creativity. It dampens our inspiration and destroys relationships. Prioritize what is important and eliminate the trivia. Although you will never totally eradicate stress you can control it rather than allowing it to control you. Take a walk, a nap, meditate, hum a tune or just change your focus. Sara Lowrey, my speech professor at Furman University, was right when she quoted, “What a dull world bleak and bare, if there were no time to sit and stare.” Stress is a major factor in the workplace and should be taken very seriously. It can lead to violence if not managed promptly and correctly. The Bible says, “Be still and know that I am God.”.

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Thankful Thursday – Thomas Walpool

On this Thankful Thursday I am thankful for the gifts that Tom Walpool brings to my life. For many years Tom was the innovative director of the Greenville, SC Hearing, Speech and Learning Center. He started a thriving program for learning disabled children and had the first industrial hearing testing mobile unit in the state. He was the driving force behind a huge Appalachian Area Grant that made a great difference to the lives of people of that area of the state. He also started a program to train Hearing Ear Dogs. Perhaps most important is his willingness to share what he knew with others. Tom grew up in Tennessee. He graduated from East Tennessee State and received his Master’s Degree from the University of Alabama. Tom is a past president of the South Carolina Speech Language and Hearing Association and received the Frank R. Kleffner Clinical Career Award. He moved to Aiken, SC to retire, but couldn’t stay out of the traces. He is working with the school system as a consultant doing diagnostic and clinical services. Tom is like the Energizer Bunny.  He is a great example of, “Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Tom made working together fun. A great friendship developed among the directors of community speech and hearing centers in the state and much of that was due to Tom’s leadership. On this Thankful Thursday, I am thankful for Tom Walpool.

Thankful Thursday is a day set aside to recognize the importance of someone special to our lives and to let her or him know of our gratitude. Develop an attitude of gratitude. Say Something Nice; Be a Lifter. You will be glad that you did.

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Stay Fit – Key 26

Stay fit

            Physical well being is a key factor for successful living, loving and working. Get enough rest. Eat the right foods in the right portions. Exercise regularly. No smoking. Be careful with alcohol. Take care of your body and your health and they will serve you well. Exercise your brain. Staying fit begins in the brain.

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